Hidalgo Co. Marshal’s Office Shares Ways to Prevent Electrical Fires

Posted: Updated:

NEAR EDINBURG - A family of eight is homeless after a fire destroyed their home overnight.

The Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed the blaze sparked from a light switch. The fire started inside a home on the 5800 block north of Kenyon Road.

The American Red Cross is helping out the family.

Edinburg resident Ronnie Hernandez said she woke up surrounded by smoke. She was able to get all of her eight family members out of the house safely.

The fire started in a wall behind a light switch, and spread until it consumed the entire mobile home.

Hidalgo County Fire Marshal investigator John Franz said he hopes all families can learn from what happened.

“Everyone says the same thing. They never expected it to happen to them,” he said.

Franz didn’t say if the family could’ve been able to prevent the fire.

“A lot of times, it’s something that could have been prevented. Actually, almost all the time it’s something that could have been prevented, and something that people might have overlooked,” he said.

Franz said light switches and electronic outlets often give clues about the possibility of an electric fire.

“When you turn the light on or turn them off, you want to make sure that they click. If you have a light switch that you king of need to jiggle a little bit or you need to push up a little but harder or if you get sparks or a popping sound in the light switch where it’s not making full contact, that’s a sign that you might have a problem,” the fire investigator said.

He said lights going dim and getting brighter for no reason is also an indicator that you should call a certified electrician.

As for outlets, Franz said loose plugs in the sockets and things barely staying put are also a problem. He added it’s also a concern if outlets always spark when things are plugged in.

“We’ve had a quite few fires that start in electrical outlets just because of use,” he said.

Franz said these problems, although considered insignificant by many homeowners, can sometimes burn homes to the ground.

The majority of Hidalgo County fires happen at homes in colonias. The office said it’s due to the city having only building codes for commercial buildings and not residential structures.

Franz said it’s up to the homeowner to make sure there are no fire hazards around.

Another cause of electrical fires can happen in bathrooms when vents, fans and lights are on the same switch.

The fire marshal’s office said people should avoid leaving those vents on too long, especially if the motor seems to be struggling. The heat from the motor and the dust on the vent can spark a fire.

Anyone with questions about fire safety can call the Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s Office at 318-2656. They may not be able to fix an issue, but they can tell the person whether they need to call a certified electrician. 

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